Today’s Teenagers are Tomorrow’s Customers: What This Means for Your Brand in the Future

StephanieAdvertising, Blog, Branding, Content, Engagement, MarketingLeave a Comment

Despite what some people might believe, today’s teenagers are not the same as those that came before. Teenagers are traditionally valuable customers for brands to have, as they typically have disposable income and are early adopters of new technologies, trends, and products. In marketing days past if a brand wanted a portion of a teen’s paycheck they needed to flood the market with polished advertisements, celebrity endorsements and other marketing materials. This is no longer the case.

Today’s teenagers don’t want to hear from big brands or media conglomerates. They don’t want these giants to define their experiences. The upcoming generation is heavily invested in individual experiences and is more likely to take recommendations from family and friends. They’ve grown up with advertising, and they don’t want to be sold to. They like to decide for themselves what trends they want to follow and what paths they want to forge for themselves.

They’re powered by new technologies and are constantly connected through social media. Now they speak through Twitter and Facebook, but soon they will also be speaking loudly with their dollars.

Is your business ready for this future? Do you know what today’s teenagers and tomorrow’s consumers want from brands? Luckily there is some research that gives us some insight into that future.

Brands need to be tech savvy.
It’s already widely known that the Millennial generation loves their devices. In fact, 30% of them use four or more devices per day. Teenagers are not much different than their twenty-something counterparts. This is the digital generation. 93% of today’s teenagers either have their own computer or access to one, according to the “Teens and Technology 2013” report. Today’s teenagers have grown up in a world of constantly evolving technology and they will expect brands to evolve in the same way. “Digital” can’t be an afterthought in the future marketplace.

Brands should get personal.
As mentioned, today’s teenagers prefer individual experiences. This will likely continue on into the future, which will be a challenge to brands as they’ll need to work personalization into marketing programs as well as purchasing processes. More than 5000 incoming college freshmen answered Mr. Youth’s “Class of 2015” study in 2011. The students noted that they’re most interested in building relationships with and buying from brands that help them express themselves. Brands will need to disregard more traditional selling tactics and become more authentic in their interactions with customers. The customers of tomorrow won’t want to feel sold to.

Brands should have morals and standards.
In addition to personalization, the survey from Mr. Youth found that today’s teenagers don’t put much stock in celebrity endorsements, status symbols, or how expensive things are. They care more about making the world better and aren’t defining how successful they are by the numbers in their bank accounts. Brands that don’t share these goals may be left behind. Tomorrow’s consumers will want their brands to share their views on life and will expect quality, originality, and genuineness.

Brands need to implement customization solutions.
Teenagers want choice. Online they present themselves in different contexts depending on the platform they’re using and where they are in life. Customization options currently fuel growth in the foodservice industry, where 2013 research from Technomic found that 64% of customers indicated that customization was important to them. Teenagers are customizing both themselves and the food they eat – it’s likely this will spill over into other aspects of their lives. They will gravitate toward brands that allow them to customize their experience and don’t force them into a “one size fits all” box.

Brands are practically required to be mobile-friendly.
If you’ve been in almost any public place recently it won’t surprise you to learn that 78% of today’s teenagers have smartphones they can use to access the Web and social media networks. If your brand doesn’t have a mobile strategy, it’s time to get one. And your website needs to be optimized for mobile, too. As the “Internet of Things” grows and more devices are capable of being connected to the Internet, users will expect enhanced mobile capabilities from brands. Brands with a physical presence, such as retail establishments, might also consider targeting nearby customers with beacons. Brands that don’t already have them need to consider developing powerful mobile apps for customers to take advantage of.

These are just a few of the ways that today’s teenagers could impact the brands and marketing of tomorrow. New developments are happening on a daily basis, so some brands might find themselves in a state of flux as they try to find the best way to relate to the customers of the future. The important thing to remember is that, above all, consumers will want brands to be honest and authentic with them. Brands that tell their stories sincerely and make meaningful connections with their customers will be positioned for success.

If you need help telling your brand’s story I might be able to help. Send me an email: stephanie@ogozaly.com.

By Stephanie Ogozaly

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